Focus on learning drives improvement

Article image - Focus on learning drives improvement Caption: City of Palmerston employees expanding their skills and knowledge by undertaking a Diploma of Local Government

The City of Palmerston in the Northern Territory knows the importance of providing ongoing learning opportunities for its employees.

The Council values providing staff with training opportunities, not only to ensure staff excel, but also to encourage growth.
A wide range of formal and informal learning activities drive the continuous improvement of organisational processes and the achievement of strategic goals, employee engagement and retention, as well as providing innovative services to residents.

Training opportunities include: vocational and tertiary education, regular internal training on anti-discrimination and whistle blowing along with ongoing cloud-based work health and safety learning modules.

Newly added this year, the ‘lean thinking’ training assists with the review of current business processes.

Employees also have opportunities to test new skills and challenge themselves by acting in other Council positions or participating in the annual Australasian Management Challenge run by Local Government Professionals Australia. Council has been a supporter of this professional development activity for many years and will again send a versatile and confident team to this year’s competition in Alice Springs.

A successful trainee program has also been running for some years, which provides up to two young people per annum with a Certificate IV in Business Administration while learning the ropes around Council.    

Special local government training can be rare in the Northern Territory.

When the opportunity was offered to further develop employee skills in this area with Learning Knowing Achieving Pty (South Australia), Council embraced the chance and enrolled 15 employees, which is a fifth of City of Palmerston’s headcount, in a Diploma of Local Government.

All areas of Council were invited to nominate employees to undertake the Diploma, and a cross section of employees was selected from Finance, Community Services, Ranger Services, Library, Human Resources, and Technical Services.

The local government specialised training provider facilitates this accredited vocational training activity in the form of monthly face-to-sessions and online learning.

The program is developed around the needs of the City of Palmerston and focuses on a project that is a priority for Council: Enterprise Risk Management. Students will work on a project identifying and assessing a broad range of risks within their work area and look at how effective internal controls are.

This project will increase the awareness of employees to look beyond work health and safety risks in their work areas and strengthen their corporate knowledge and skills of effective risk management, which will equip the City of Palmerston well for its future.